THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: With its Mars mission sure to hog much of the spotlight in the weeks ahead, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has again put off an already-delayed mission; the keenly-awaited test-flight of the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mk-III (GSLV Mk-III), the giant among India’s rockets.
ISRO is now planning to test-fly the GSLV Mk-III from Sriharikota only by October end at the earliest, sources said.
The reason for the delay is that the prototype of a two-man crew module for future manned space missions which is to be tested aboard the GSLV Mk-III, is not ready yet. Secondly, in the next few weeks, all ISRO activity will be centred around the `450-crore Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), whose tryst with the Red Planet is slated for September 24.
The GSLV Mk-III is important for ISRO. It will help India become self-reliant inlaunching hefty satellites in the 4000 kg to 5000 kg class, helping ISRO gain an edge in the highly-competitive global market for launching commercial satellites. Standing at 42.4 metres, the GSLV Mk-III will have a lift-off weight of 630 tonnes (the conventional GSLV weighs at roughly 415 tonnes).
Originally planned for April this year, the GSLV Mk-III test-flight had been postponed to June end. Work on an upgraded cryogenic stage - which would remain ‘passive’ in this test mission - is also over, M Chandra Dathan, director, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), said. ‘’The crew module prototype was included in the plans only a year ago. Its work is nearing completion,’’ he said. As per the present schedule, a PSLV mission is next in line - in the first or second week of October - after the Mars mission docks with the Red Planet.
The PSLV C-26 mission will have as payload the 1425 kg IRNSS-1C satellite, PSLV project director P Kunhikrishnan said. This is the third of the seven satellites planned in the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) series.
■ GSLV Mk-III mission postponed to October end
■ Work on crew module prototype for manned mission, to be flown aboard GSLV Mk-III, not over yet.
■ PSLV C-26 mission bearing the IRNSS-1C satellite to be launched in the beginning of October.